The word vocation is derived from the Latin word vocare, “to call,” which means a vocation is a calling. Everyone has a vocation to holiness, a universal call to holiness, which Christ gives to us in the Gospel (John 13:34): I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As Christians, we realize this call according to different states of life. Some will build up the Mystical Body of Christ through a life of prayer as single people. Others will be called to sanctity through the life of marriage and family. Others will discern a vocation to consecrated religious life as a brother or a sister. The Church will call some men to become her priests and deacons.
Learning about Vocations
There are many helpful resources available to assist with discernment and formation. Here are just a few:
- Marriage information here on the St. Anne website.
- Vocations page on the USCCB website
- Diocese of Phoenix Vocations Page
Meet your brothers and sisters in discernment
Here in the Diocese of Phoenix, there are several men and women who need our prayers during their discernment process. There are also groups like the Sarra Club of East Valley who dedicate themselves to praying for priests, seminarians and vocations to the religious life. Take a moment to read the biographies and information of some of our very own St. Anne men and women that would like you to keep them in prayer on their journey.
My name is Ivan Rojas, born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. My wife, Ines, and I got married in 1995 and moved to the US shortly before our first anniversary. Since then our home has been blessed with three daughters: Maria, Catalina and Ana Lucia. We have been members of the St Anne since 2001.
I grew up in a Catholic home where Sunday Mass and daily Rosary were the norm. My siblings and I went to Catholic school, where we received a strong formation. But that did not make me a committed Catholic, for my faith was still not my own; it was my parents’. One Saturday, when I was in 8th grade, my mom dropped me at our Parish to serve as “one of the 12 guys to have their feet washed!” Something happened there, for it was after that moment that I began to truly claim my faith. I started participating in the youth group, I helped with music ministry, I eventually I became the youth minister, I went in missions, and then I started studying the Bible and Christology. When I was finishing high school and starting college, I began to question my faith and the Catholic Church in general. I started studying and learning about other religions. I wanted to see if there was truth in any of them, and even though I felt that I was wondering around, I never wonder too far off from the Eucharist –this is something I can only attribute to the grace that God gives through this mysterious Sacrament.
At some point in my aimless wondering the Blessed Virgin Mary enter into my life. Off course I wasn’t aware of that until a very good friend of mine invited me to pray the Rosary at his parent’s house. It was there, in the meditation and contemplation of the Gospel through the Rosary that I reconnected to the core of the Catholic Church: The Sacraments, charity and evangelization.
Through this second conversion, I reconnected with the sacrament of reconciliation and daily Mass; at the same time I was called to lead some of the activities that this Marian prayer group was in charge of. One of those activities was done every Friday night, where a bunch of young adults would go to the streets of Bogotá to bring a hot drink and a small meal to the homeless we found along the route. Quickly I learned that the food and drink we provide to those in need is the means that God uses for us to reach those who are rejected by society. Without knowing it, we were feeding their soul more than their stomachs by calling and treating them as brothers –and that filled my soul as well.
For the first time I was actively living my faith by participating in the Sacraments, caring for those in need, and growing as a true disciple of the Lord. Only then I considered myself a committed Catholic.
After a few months working the Friday night ministry, I met “this girl” who was joining us to feed those in the streets. While preparing everything for the route, a friend asked me to drive her car that night. I said yes, and when I got in the driver’s seat, there was “this girl,” Ines, sitting in the passenger seat.
I would have never guessed that Ines would be my wife, but God knew.
I always knew that I would get married, as early as thirteen, I knew. I can’t describe how but it was this certainty, that one day I would have a wife and a family.
Okay, back to the night when I met Ines. I was absolutely clueless that God had made our paths cross for a reason He had planned from all eternity. At that time when I met Ines I had been asking God to help me find the wife he had prepared for me; I knew she existed, I just didn’t know who or where she was. I offered my daily Eucharist and Rosaries, and I even fasted a couple of times a week for that who one day would be my wife.
Luckily, after our first meeting, God allowed us to become friends, sharing many Masses and Rosaries together, but it wasn’t until lent of ‘94 while traveling out of the country that I found that the woman I had been praying for was Ines. Then, on Good Friday we both discovered and revealed our mutual love through the infinite love of Jesus in the cross.
In essence nothing changed after that Good Friday except that we committed ourselves to love each other through the Eucharist and to always go to Mary for her intersession. A couple of months later, I felt moved to ask her to marry me. The certainty that our relationship had the solid foundation of the Sacraments and that our Mother Mary was there when the wine ran out gave me the courage to commit my entire life to her until the end of our lives.
We got married on May 13th 1995, on the day of Our Lady of Fatima as a sign of the consecration of our marriage to the Blessed Mother’s intersession. So far Her generosity has been unsurpassed and the graces we continue to receive through the sacramental life have allowed us to love each other every moment of our married life, despite the hard moments that life (or sometimes I!) will bring.
I have to confess, I didn’t know anything about the Diaconate until I came to the USA; certainly much less about the permanent Diaconate! Another thing I didn’t know is that “Deacon”, or “Díacono” in Spanish, comes from the Greek word “Diaconos” which means servant.
To serve is something that has never been foreign to me. My parents have always taught me the importance of serving others. One of my earliest memories is that of taking a bowl of soup to a homeless man who lived down the road. Later in life when I started going on missions the whole “service to others” became a bit more tangible. For when seeing and feeding the homeless in the streets, their needs and the needs of others became a clear and real motivation to serve in whatever way I could.
Another thing I learned is that those needs are not limited only to the physical, and that “others” are not solely the homeless and forgotten. Are there not many among us who are thirsting for a kind word, a listening ear, a smile, a hug, or for companionship? Could they be sitting next to us in the pews at Mass?
In a very special way, God has also allowed me to experience the needs of our priests. I have learned to love and truly admire them not because of the extraordinary things they do but for their humanity. I admire our priests that, while recognizing their limited humanity, get up every day to –literally— bring God into the world. Granted, I don’t consider myself worthy of untying their sandals, but I do recognize the pastoral demands that a parish has on her pastor and that they could really use some help.
Just thinking on serving God’s people makes me shake like a leaf, but at the same time it also drives me to become a better disciple and a closer friend of Jesus; for the closer I get to Him, the smaller I become –and that is a good thing. I have little to offer the world except Jesus himself.
Vocation, I’ve always said, is how God draws us to himself. Each and every one of you has a vocation, waiting to be discovered, and lived, and lived fully.
So, I invite you to pray: start by thanking God for the plan He has for you, and then by asking Him to help you find that plan if you haven’t discovered it yet, or if you have, to help you renew your commitment to it everyday. Truly, God never disappoints his faithful ones, for when you abandon yourself in His arms like a child in the arms of a loving father, He allows you to participate in his life.
Lastly, I ask for your prayers, for me, for Ines, and for our daughters; for I do not travel this path alone, it is my family’s as well. Let’s be honest, I dragged them into this, and now I feel as if that they are pulling me along.
May God help us live our vocations well, and in doing so inspire others live theirs as well.
To God be all the glory for this testimony. May He be praised for all He has done to guide me in His most precious will!
I would not have been able to do what He was asking without the help of His holy priests at St. Anne: Fr. Sergio, Fr. Dan and Fr. David. Neither would I have been able without my family and friends, specially my mom Gina, my sister Stephanie, my friend Mary Schultz and her wonderful family, and many other beautiful souls, which I am forever indebted to.
There is also deep gratitude in my heart for Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations for their gracious contribution in making my vocation possible as well. I encourage anyone who is able to donate to this heavenly cause for all those aspirants to the consecrated life who are unable to continue because of college loans.
Ever since I was little I had the desire to change the world. As I grew, the world convinced me that the only way to do that was to change myself.
My mom and I moved to the United States from Mexico when I was ten years old. From then until my last year in college I suffered a lot, trying to change myself into not being “the foreign girl”. I thought I needed to be everything “American” to do what I desired. My biggest mistake was trading the Catholic faith I had been born into for ambition of fame and money. I now was a proud fool, thinking I was on my way to bliss and happiness with my selfishness. I desperately wanted to get there regardless of the means.
Blessed be the great mercy of God that called me out of this foolish grasping for empty promises.
I was 23 years old when my disappointment in the ways of the world had brought me to the lowest point of my life. In this sadness I felt a small pleading to find what I had forsaken: my faith. God waited so patiently for that moment when I would turn back to Him, begging for His forgiveness.
Through it all, God has shown me that He never left me, although I had left Him. I was the prodigal daughter and He was always waiting at the door for my return. I’ll never understand the love He has for us humans, especially me. For only by His grace alone, was it that I began to seek a relationship with Him. I wanted to know Him, as I read much of what His friends, the saints, had to say of Him. It’s been a journey full of adventure and stillness; joys and sorrows; lows and highs; new beginnings and needed ends.
As a good Father, He gave more than I could have ever imagined. He showed me my vocation.
My vocation is to serve Him with my prayers for the world to change for the better. More than ever I want this to be so, but how wonderful it is to know that it is only possible by asking God. He is the only one with authority and power to make it happen, therefore He deserves all the honor and fame. As I enter the Poor Clare Monastery in Santa Barbara, California, by the merits of Christ Jesus who gave His life for sinners like me on the cross, I will strive to become the servant I was called to be. Then if so God wishes, may my prayers along with the prayers of His faithful enkindle and renew the face of the earth with the fire of the Holy Spirit. May our blessed Mother intercede with us, and may she obtain for me to forever imitate her.
St. Anne, pray for us.
My name is Carter Montag, I am from Gilbert, AZ and am 21 years old. I grew up in a family of three children — one older brother and one older sister. My family was, and still is, non-denominational Christian. As a child, every Saturday evening we would go to the church where my dad played in the band, then we would eat as a family at our favorite Mexican restaurant. We prayed before meals and, because we had been given much, my parents always encouraged us to help others in need.
It wasn’t until I started college that I became serious about my faith. At this point I began reading Sacred Scripture and praying — I even signed up to take a New Testament class at my university. I started a ending the college group at my church, but soon realized that while my childhood church was de nitely entertaining and a great place to socialize, I hadn’t been fed spiritually or intellectually. I began researching other churches, learning about each of their doctrines and histories, but I was having a hard time finding satisfying answers. It wasn’t until I started researching the Catholic Church that I began to feel peace and nd the answers I was looking for.
Although I grew up in a very Catholic area, I knew very li le about the Church. Through resources online and any book I could get my hands on, I began learning as much as I could about the Church. I was soon convinced. I started a ending Mass and praying the rosary. By the grace of God and the prayers of Our Lady, I was brought into full communion with the Church on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. The next summer I taught a program for my diocese that had me traveling and teaching children of all ages. During that summer I met many holy men and women, families, priests, seminarians, and religious, and I was inspired by their faith and witness. I wanted to practice that same level of devotion and faith and de ne myself rstly as a son of God with whom He is well pleased.
I started thinking about pursuing a religious vocation even before my conversion. I often pictured myself as a Protestant pastor in a rural town with a wife and many children. Once I was received into the Church I realized that being a priest now meant that I couldn’t get married and have children, so I told myself I was no longer interested; however, the thought remained at the back of my head buried under homework, exams, working, and the other distractions of full-time study.
The summer I was teaching for the diocese, a priest from a parish I a ended back home was murdered during a robbery. This tragedy really shook me up.
I looked at the life of this holy priest and observed that he followed the Lord’s will for his life regardless of the sacri ces it required. I realized that I should have an open mind to what the Lord might be calling me to, even if it meant making a few sacri ces.
When I returned from my summer of teaching I became the sacristan and head altar server of my parish. I think some of the most peaceful moments I have experienced have been serving at the altar. In the following year, I fell in love with the liturgy and the sacraments. I found so much joy in serving at the Holy Sacri ce and in training other men to do the same.
I had a feeling my pastor o ered me the sacristan position to encourage me to pursue a religious vocation. Once in my new role he would regularly ask me, “So Carter, when are you going to seminary?” My responses progressed from a curt, Never, to I’m visiting a monastery, we’ll see how it goes, and nally, I’ve been accepted to an order and I am going to go.
The monastery I visited was St. Michael’s Abbey, a group of Norbertine priests in Orange County, California. The main charism of the abbey is solemn celebration of the liturgy in both the choral recitation of the divine o ce and the celebration of the Mass. The main apostolate of the community is teaching. The Norbertines run a boarding school for boys on their property and another Catholic school nearby. They also run two parishes and say Mass at over 30 parishes in the area every weekend. St John Paul II described the Norbertines as “Holding high the Eucharist over all miseries and errors of this world.” If the Lord wills my perseverance in this community, I will most likely teach math or science in one of the schools.
I first contacted the abbey after I graduated and the diocese sent me to Japan to teach catechesis on a United States Air Force base. Again, it was the witness of those around me that gave me the push I needed to contact the vocations director. After a few emails and a conversation on the phone with the vocations director I felt the Lord was leading me toward making a visit to the abbey. Two months later I cashed in some precious vacation days and visited the community. My time at the abbey was more fruitful than all of the hours I spent desperately praying about my vocation. After that visit I wholeheartedly believe that my vocation is at St. Michael’s Abbey. Returning home I quickly requested an application from the vocations director. A few months later Father Abbot accepted me into the postulancy with an entrance date of August 2016 under one condition: my student loans had to be paid o . When I was unsuccessful at paying o my loans and I would have to wait even longer before entering I was, in short, heartbroken. My debt is the only thing standing between me and religious life.
Humbly, I ask foremost for your prayers. Please pray that I, and my brother and sister aspirants with the Labouré Society will be able to soon live out our religious callings. Our world is in such desperate need for men and women to become holy priests and religious and I, and others in my situation, so desperately need your help. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to learn more.
I am not only an aspirant to religious life; I am also a fundraiser for these vocations. A recent study con rmed that nearly one out of two aspirants have student loans and thus most communities and dioceses cannot accept them. It is the only thing that prevents many – including me – from entering formation to become a priest, sister, or brother.
Through Labouré, my fellow aspirants and I work together as a class raising donations from $10 – $10,000 to deliver each of us into formation. We are blessed to have this opportunity to share our love for God, our vocation stories, and to invite hundreds of individuals to support vocations like ours by sharing our stories, remembering us in prayer, and financially investing in our future.
At the end of our class, Labouré will issue awards based on individual e ort and the funds available to Labouré.
They will administer the awards while we are in formation over a three year period (you can learn more about the program on the back of this le er). If we leave formation for any reason, we will resume our own payments. Plus, every aspirant in Labouré has been accepted by their diocese or community and is required to work and liquidate their assets as able to make their own maximum loan payments.
At the beginning of our class, we met and participated in an intensive three-day training session on the ethics and spirituality of fundraising. We are learning practical skills that will help us now and in our future vocations. We have also developed as a team to learn from and support each other. You can see our picture below.
Will you join our vocational journeys? Please partner with us and be part of our vocation team so we can answer God’s call together!